Cunard Breaks the Rules
I'm 77, for Pete's sake. I have just spent several thousand dollars with these people and I am being talked to like an unruly teenager.
What followed were 1,318 words of legalese by a company suffering from serious paranoia and in thrall to nasty lawyers. A sampling (Boldface theirs):
3. THE MATERIALS AND INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY WARRANTY FOR THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF INFORMATION, SERVICES, OR PRODUCTS PROVIDED THROUGH OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS SITE AND ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY OR NONINFRINGEMENT. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you.
It Gets Weirder
Three weeks later, a 25-page, 8-1/2 x 11-3/4" full-color, personalized booklet arrived from London via Royal Mail. The title: Pre-Voyage Documentation
I eagerly opened the brochure. On the inside cover was a nine-line welcome note from Peter Shanks, president and managing director.
It was set in seven-point sans serif mouse-type.
Ever the marketing geek, three inviolable rules popped into my head:
"Type smaller than nine-point is difficult for most people to read." —David Ogilvy
"Serif type [in text] is easier to read than sans serif type." —David Ogilvy
"A letter should look and feel like a letter." —Dick Benson
I have never in my life received a letter in seven-point sans serif mouse-type.
Actually, all the copy throughout the booklet was seven-point sans serif mouse-type. It was only readable at all with my 77-year-old left eye by removing my glasses and holding the pages three inches from my nose. [See the second image. To read it, a magnifying glass is required.]
Amid the mouse-type I found the address for the ship terminal in Southampton. Nowhere in the brochure—or on the Cunard website—could I find the time of day the ship was to sail.